Having a career as a professional wrestler is definitely not for everyone. Everybody who calls wrestling "fake" has not put themselves in the shoes of a professional wrestler. These performers put their bodies on the line each and every night. While these guys may be called professionals for a reason, you are still bound to get many bumps and bruises along the way. If you add all them up over a twenty-plus year career, you get one very sore body.
Each guy on the list has a unique story of how they became disabled, but in almost every case, their career as a professional wrestler played a significant role. It's not just injuries that have caused these wrestlers' health and well-being to decline, it was also the years of drug and alcohol abuse that they put their bodies through.
All of the wrestlers on this list may have some sort of disability, but some are more severe than others. A few of these people can only walk with the aid of a cane, while others are unfortunately confined to a wheelchair.
Without further ado, here are 15 ex-wrestlers who now have the unfortunate pleasure of living with disabilities.
15 Big Vito - Extreme Hearing Loss
Big Vito had the privilege of wrestling for all three of the major North American wrestling companies during the 1990s. He wrestled on the early days of Monday Night Raw as a jobber named Von Kraus. Big Vito got his big break when he joined ECW in 1999. His run was fairly brief, spending the majority of his time as a member of the tag team The Baldies. His performance was impressive enough to earn a contract with WCW. Vito would wrestle two years with WCW, before returning to the spotlight with the WWE in 2005. Vito spent three years with WWE and will probably be most remembered for wearing a dress. That goes to show just how un-impactful his last run with the WWE was.
Since leaving the WWE in 2009, Vito has continues to wrestle on the independent circuit to this day. In a 2014 interview, Vito stated that he is seventy-five percent deaf, and he's had hearing problems all his life. However, in 2015 he sued the WWE, blaming his deafness on all the concussions he suffered in the ring. Something seems a bit fishy: was Vito deaf before or after he started wrestling? Something tells me his lawsuit won't get very far.
14 Rico Constantino - Extreme Memory Loss
Rico may have only had a brief run in the wrestling business, but it was at least a fairly memorable run. Rico made his WWE debut in 2002 as the manager/stylist of the heel tag team Billy and Chuck. Rico would then move on to manage 3-Minute Warning before trekking off on his own as a singles competitor. Rico was starting to get over with the fans when he was unexpectedly released in 2004.
Rico wrestled briefly in Japan before going back to his career as a police officer. Things seemed to be going well for Constantino, but in 2016 it was revealed he is suffering from some major health problems. Constantino has severe heart problems and is suffering from brain trauma. He has extreme memory loss, as he can't remember things that happened even an hour prior. These memory issues are being blamed on the concussions he suffered in the ring. Here's hoping his current health problems are not a permanent thing.
13 Bryan Clark - Spinal Injury
Bryan Clark may not be a huge name in the history of professional wrestling, but that doesn't mean he didn't have his fair share of success. Clark first began wrestling in AWA and WCW during the late 1980s and early 1990s. He signed with the WWE in 1993 and became known as Adam Bomb. The character looked like it had a ton of potential as a monster heel. However, after just a year he was turned into a babyface. His character's push all but ended after that. Clark would sign with WCW in 1997, where he would become known as Wrath. He had a solid four-year run with WCW, but constant injuries kept him from living up to his true potential.
After another very brief run with the WWE in 2001, Clark was forced to retire due to numerous injuries. Today, Clark's injuries have only gotten worse. In 2014, he had to have disks replaced in his neck, and he also had to have spinal surgery. All of his injuries, which also include extreme memory loss, make it almost impossible for him to even drive to his local grocery store.
12 Hebner Twins - Neurological Problems
Earl and Dave Hebner are arguably the most famous referees in wrestling history. Earl Hebner is arguably the more famous of the brothers. Along with refereeing most main event WWE matches from 1988–2005, he was also heavily involved in the infamous Montreal Screwjob. Dave may not be as well known as his twin brother, but he has still refereed some historic matches including Randy Savage versus Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III and Randy Savage versus Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania V.
While both men weren't technically wrestlers, the role of a referee is a great deal more physical than other sport's referees. Both men took many bumps during their careers, and now both men are part of a class action lawsuit against the WWE regarding concussion issues. Earl says he suffers from constant headaches and dizziness. His brother Dave has it worse as he was recently diagnosed with dementia, as well as Parkinson disease.
11 Henry O. Godwinn - Neck Problems
Henry O. Godwinn (Pictured Right) is one of the many cartoonish gimmicks that appeared in WWE during the 1990s. His gimmick was that of a pig farmer who famously carried a bucket of slop to the ring. Godwinn would start out as a singles competitor before being put in a tag team with his scripted brother Phineas I. Godwinn. The Godwinns would go on to win the WWE Tag Team Championship on two different occasions.
Mark Canterbury, the man who portrayed Henry O. Godwinn, suffered a career and life altering injury during a match against the Legion of Doom in 1997. The Legion of Doom were attempting to do their patented Doomsday Device on Canterbury, but they ended up botching the move which caused Canterbury to crack a C7 vertebra. Today Canterbury is not able to work because of his injured neck and he blames it all on the botched Doomsday Device.
10 One Man Gang - Back Problems
One Man Gang was one of better known big guys in the WWE during the late 1980s. The 6'9," 450 lbs monster had main event feuds with the likes of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. After two years into his WWE run, the One Man Gang was given the new gimmick of "Akeem, the African Dream." The gimmick was considered a bit racist, as the One Man Gang, who was clearly a caucasian guy, started to talk with an extremely stereotypical black accent. The gimmick would surprisingly last almost two years before he was released by the WWE in 1990.
The One Man Gang, whose real name is George Gray, has not taken care of his body very well as the years have gone by. Gray has gained a ton of weight since retiring, which compiled with all his time in the ring has caused him major back problems. Gray was working as a prison guard after he hung up his wrestling boots, but back and neck problems have forced him to quit his job. He now relies on disability checks as his lone source of income.
9 New Jack - Blind in One Eye
Extreme Championship Wrestling was famous for its hardcore style and there wasn't anyone who defined hardcore wrestling more than New Jack. In every one of his matches, New Jack brought a garbage can full weapons to the ring. If a garbage can full weapons wasn't enough, New Jack carried a staple gun around his neck that he was not at all afraid to use on his opponents. While his weapon usage only caused his opponents pain, his insane balcony dives were a whole other story. New Jack would climb twenty feet up and dive off the balcony onto his opponents through a table. Not only would he do these stunts on television and Pay-Per-Views, he would even do these balcony dives at house shows.
While New Jack miraculously escaped major injury on most of these dives, there was one dive in particular that would alter his life forever. In a match against Vic Grimes at Living Dangerously 2000, the two men were fighting on a fifteen-foot scaffold in the air. The plan was for both of them to come crashing down through a table. The plan failed miserably as both men completely missed the table and instead landed on the concrete floor. What made it worse for New Jack was that the massive Grimes landed on his head. New Jack would suffer permanent brain damage and became blind in one eye. You put that together with his many devastating matches during his career, and you get a very slow moving New Jack today.
8 Magnum T.A - Paralyzed
Magnum T.A's (Pictured Right) career may have been brief, but it was an impactful one. Magnum started his career in 1980 wrestling for many promotions under the NWA banner. His career didn't really start to take off until he joined Jim Crockett Promotions. It was there where he became a two-time United States Champion. He also had a notable feud with the Four Horsemen.
Unfortunately for Magnum T.A, just as his career was about to skyrocket, he got into a near-fatal car accident. He was driving his Porshe on a rainy day and lost control. His vehicle spun out and wrapped itself around a telephone pole. Magnum would be forced to live the rest of his life in a wheelchair. It is most likely that Magnum T.A would have become the NWA World Heavyweight Champion had it not been for the accident.
7 Mantaur - Nerve Damage
Mike Halac had a wrestling career that was over a decade long, but he will always be remembered for his brief run in the WWE as Mantaur. The gimmick was that of someone who was half-man, half-beast. On his way to the ring, he wore a ridiculously enormous bison head. It's safe to say the gimmick was doomed from the start. He actually was paired up with the talented Jim Cornette at first, but it wasn't too long before Mantaur gained jobber status. His lone Pay-Per-View appearance was in the 1995 Royal Rumble.
Flash forward to 2016, life hasn't been so kind to Mr. Halac. He is in very rough shape physically. He is constantly on medication for numerous problems. He can only move his neck partially and has no feeling in his fingers or arms. Halac is not able to work, and he blames all these injuries on his time with the WWE.
6 The Iron Sheik - Mobility Issues
The Iron Sheik will probably always be remembered as the man who Hulk Hogan defeated to win his first ever World Wrestling Federation Championship, but he was more than that. The Iron Sheik played a heel as good as anyone ever could. You certainly wouldn't have anti-American characters like Rusev in the WWE today if it wasn't for a guy like Sheik paving the way. He may have been most known for his feud with Hogan, but he also did a fantastic job as the character of Colonel Mustafa in the early 1990s.
The Iron Sheik could have an even better career had his drug problems not got the best of him. He stopped wrestling full-time during the 1990s, but didn't have his final match until 2010. He should have stopped wrestling way before then as his badly beaten and worn down body is evidence of that. The Iron Sheik who was a very imposing man back in his prime has been reduced to a shell of his former self. Today, The Iron Sheik gets around very slow with the aide of cane. His entire body is so banged up and sore from a lengthy career. The worst part is that he blew all his money on drugs and cannot afford to pay for any surgery to fix his ailing body.
5 Droz - Paralyzed
Before Darren Drozdov stepped into the squared circle, he was a professional football player in the NFL. Drozdov wasn't necessarily known for his football skills, he actually became known for his ability to vomit on command. His unique personality was perfect for the world of professional wrestling. Drozdov got his start on the indy scene and had a brief stint in ECW before he signed with the WWE in 1998.
Drozdov made his debut in WWE under the name of Puke. The WWE loved his puking ability so much that they based his character off of that. He eventually became a member of The Legion of Doom, although his stay didn't last too long. It was shortly after his time with The Road Warriors that is life and career would change forever.
In a match against D'Lo Brown at a 1999 SmackDown! taping, Brown was going for his Running Powerbomb finisher when he lost grip of Drozdov shirt, which ended up causing Drozdov to fall right on his head. Drozdov would become a quadriplegic, although today he is able to move most of his upper body and arms. Darren Drozdov is happy to still alive and has absolutely no ill will towards D'Lo Brown.
4 Lex Luger - Spinal Stroke
When it comes to pro wrestlers in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, there was not a whole lot of more successful wrestlers than Lex Luger. Although he wrestled in the WWE from 1993 to 1995, with his biggest accomplishment being the co-winner of the 1994 Royal Rumble, the majority of his success came during his ten-plus years in WCW. Luger was a five- time United States Champion, and a two-time WCW Heavyweight Champion.
There were a ton of wrestlers during the 1990s who were involved in heavy drug and alcohol use, and Luger was no different. All of the drug use eventually took its toll on Luger's body. In 2007 Luger suffered a spinal stroke which left him in a quadriplegic state. As the years have gone by Luger is now able to walk with the use of a walker, and he can now even drive.
3 Jimmy Snuka - Dementia
There are only so many moments in professional wrestling that are truly iconic, and 'Superfly' Jimmy Snuka was part of one of those. In a Steel Cage match against Don Muraco at Madison Square Garden in 1983, Snuka did his patented Superfly Splash off of the 15-foot steel cage onto Muraco. Future wrestling stars like Mick Foley, Tommy Dreamer, and Bubba Ray Dudley were all in attendance that night, and all of them were inspired to become professional wrestlers after seeing Snuka fly off the cage. It's moments like this that made Jimmy Snuka a pioneer in the wrestling business.
Snuka may have had a terrific career in the ring, but you can't say the same thing when it comes to his life outside the ring. This is especially true for the past few years of his life. In 2015 he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. In 2016, while facing charges for murdering his girlfriend back in 1983, it was revealed that Snuka is suffering from dementia.
2 Kamala - Amputee
Kamala was one of the most unique characters in wrestling history. His gimmick was that of a wildman from Uganda, who wore face and body paint and wrestled barefoot. Kamala had the most success of his career in the WWE during the 1980s. The biggest feuds of his career involved the likes of Jake Roberts and Hulk Hogan. After leaving the WWE Kamala signed with WCW in 1995, but his run didn't even last a year. After that short stint, Kamala wrestled on the independents for the rest of his career.
Kamala, whose real name is James Harris, has suffered from diabetes since 1992. In 2011 he had to have his left leg amputated. In 2012, he had his other leg amputated. This all could have been avoided had Harris not refused to accept dialysis treatment. Currently, Harris is confined to a wheelchair and is living off of disability checks.
1 Dynamite Kid - Numerous Health Problems
Dynamite Kid will go down as one of the most influential wrestlers in the history of the business. His high-risk, athletic style was something that wasn't seen before. Dynamite Kid had some absolutely amazing matches during his time with Stampede Wrestling in Calgary. However, most fans remember him from his stint with the WWE in 1980s as a member of the tag team The British Bulldogs. Alongside his partner Davey Boy Smith, Dynamite Kid would win the Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania II.
Dynamite Kid could have had an even more successful career had he not abused his body inside and outside the ring. With his style of wrestling came a ton of injuries. Instead of letting his injuries heal, he would just fight through the pain. He also was heavily involved with steroids and other hard drugs. All of this is the reason why Dynamite Kid is in such rough shape today. He is currently confined to a wheel chair as his left leg is paralyzed. He also suffers from numerous heart problems.
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